When I was in college, I often heard stories about fraternities hazing their pledges. Most of it involved excessive drinking or completely ridiculous acts, like streaking or doing other embarrassing things in public. And while much of it seemed innocent to me at the time, I was aware that students were being harmed or even killed at other institutions. Fortunately, hazing was soon outlawed and students who engaged in it faced serious consequences. Sure, some of it still happened, but at least all the morbid news stories eased off a bit.
I wish the same were true today. After just a few minutes of surfing the internet, I came across two recent hazing stories that make me wonder if this is going to become a problem again.
The first story comes from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Their chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was just suspended because of an incident this past weekend that ended with one student being hospitalized. Apparently, they used hoses to give alcohol enemas to students. This produces a stronger and much more dangerous “buzz” since it allows alcohol to enter the bloodstream faster. The hospitalized student was subjected to this and ended up with a blood alcohol level more than five times higher than the legal limit for driving!
A spokesperson for the university denied this was hazing and instead qualified it as an “alcohol incident,” but I have my doubts. If it were this simple, then why suspend the fraternity? In my experience, alcohol and fraternities go hand-in-hand. Am I now supposed to believe that a single incident of alcohol abuse is enough to warrant suspension of the entire chapter? Better yet, would any fraternities exist if this were standard procedure? Aside from honors or academic fraternities, that is.
Several young soccer players ranging in age from 14-15 were the victims of hazing and sexual assault by as many as ten of their teammates. Basically, the gang cornered each of them in a back room, held them down and inserted poles into their rectums. Although this is horrifying enough, I was even more appalled to learn that their coach was aware this abuse and did nothing to stop it. And his office was almost next door to the room where the abuse took place! It’s also worth mentioning that when the coach saw his players luring one of their victims into the room, he winked at the kid. Is there any doubt he knew what was about to happen?
While I find both of these stories disturbing for different reasons, it is obvious that hazing still occurs far more than it should. I can understand why the fraternity incident happened because as I mentioned, I know how some of these organizations operate. And the fraternity guys I knew were always looking for ways to enhance or intensify their “buzz.” They used beer bongs, did keg stands and consumed more Jello shooters than I care to count. I don’t agree with their methods, but I’m also not shocked by them, either.
However, the incident at La Puente High School has to be one of the most offensive and frightening things I have heard in some time. Now that I’m a father, I find myself inserting my son into stories like these, at least as precautionary tales. He just started kindergarten and I must admit that relinquishing control of him to teachers and school administrators was not easy to do. I trust they will take care of him and make sure he remains safe, but there is always some level of doubt since no one will care for him like I do. The soccer coach in this story should have protected his players and intervened as soon as he learned of this abuse. Instead, he let it happen and even seemed to relish the fact it occurred. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one of the victim’s parents beat the ever-loving shit out of this guy because personally, I would do it in an instant. Hell, I would probably kick some of the players’ asses, too. And you better believe that a lawsuit against the school, the coach and everyone else involved would be filed immediately. Someone would pay the price.
Hazing may be illegal, but since when has that stopped anyone? Smoking marijuana is illegal and more people are doing it than ever before, so laws aren’t enough to protect us. We must protect each other so incidents like the ones mentioned here will no longer plague our society. Part of our responsibility is to educate everyone, including our children, about the potential dangers in the world, including hazing. The other part is to take action when things like this do occur so others won’t fall victim to them in the future.
So to all you coaches, teachers or other school officials out there who let hazing and even sexual assault happen to your students, I have one piece of advice for you: watch your back. Because if you allow something like this to happen to my son, I will be visiting you very soon.
I’m not sure what bothers me more: the fact that these teens beat this man to death or that they were bold and stupid enough to post the video of the beating on Facebook.
Yes, we live in a violent society and, if you simply play the odds, eventually someone is going to get hurt. Unfortunately, we as a society also seem to be sending kids the message that violent behavior isn’t just acceptable, but entertaining to boot.
Until we find a way to educate our youth so they can be productive members of society, we face certain doom once these people are the ones running the country.
And if this kind of behavior is a sign of things to come, I certainly weep for the future.
Be good to each other…
The Great Recession of 2007 scared the heck out of me and many others as we watched our retirement accounts plummet. And I am one of the fortunate ones because I am still pretty far from retirement. Others weren’t so lucky. Just look at all the older folks returning to the workforce and the grim picture becomes clear.
It got me thinking about this routine we have imposed upon ourselves, one that runs contrary to everything life should be. We spend our entire lives working, only to reach retirement when we are too old and wrinkly to enjoy it.
And thanks to the recession, we now have to work even longer, which means we are even older when we finally call it quits.
How sad and ironic is that?
Personally, I would rather enjoy the freedom that comes with retirement while I’m still relatively young. Sadly, I am not independently wealthy, have no lottery winnings and never received a huge inheritance. I’m a regular working stiff who, thanks to the economy, now has very little to show for it. And I have my doubts if I will ever be able to retire comfortably, at least not until I have one foot in the grave, that is.
I certainly wish there were an easy solution. And I know we can’t advance people their retirement and then expect them to work it off while their hips go out and their arthritis prevents a strong grip.
But it would be nice.
And consider sex, if you will. Right now—and I apologize for being so personal—I am confident I could be “ready” almost anytime without medicinal enhancement. How enjoyable will sex be when I replace my current tool with a shriveled up, flaccid thing-a-me-bob? It won’t matter that I have so much time on my hands. I just get the feeling I’ll be more concerned with adult diapers, pill calendars and other general malaise.
So I beg you, dear reader. Help me figure this thing out so we can finally bring life back into focus. No longer will weekends and annual vacations be our only forays into pure joy. Every day will be a blessing, and we will be all the better for it.
For some reason, the issue of racism popped into my head today and I felt obliged to share my views in this forum. Please know that I normally try to avoid such touchy subjects, but I certainly do not want to shy away from them, either. And although nothing here is earth-shattering or groundbreaking, I feel like sharing nonetheless.
My racial profile
I am a Caucasian man, the product of an Argentinian father—most of his family having immigrated from Italy and Sicily to South America in the early 20th century—and an American mother with ties to Scotland and Ireland. I even remember my great grandmother being almost fresh off the boat from Scotland, accent and all.
Like many of you—even those who deny it—I possess a streak of racial prejudice that occasionally presents itself. Face it. We are all the result of our culture and upbringing. And the general rule has always been that we feel closer to people who are just like us; those unlike us seem strange, at least until we learn more about them. It’s only natural.
My racism might take the form of an expletive mumbled in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or maybe the expectation that every African-American have some skill with a basketball. However, the deep-seeded racism that causes so many problems in the world finds no home in my heart. And I’ll tell you why.
In my life, logic always rules, so I generally consider race from a strictly scientific or anthropological perspective. I believe people are equal because of the one characteristic they all share: humanity. Race is nothing more than a geographical side effect. Where our people originated on the planet and their proximity to the equator determined their skin color, and thus their race.
When I meet someone, I strive to understand them as an individual, but I also understand that stereotypes exist, some of them for a reason. It’s obvious that people of different races occasionally perpetuate these stereotypes. Otherwise they wouldn’t exist at all. Native Americans sometimes struggle with alcoholism. White folks occasionally embarrass themselves on the dance floor. And some black men do have big… well, you catch my drift. It happens.
We are making things worse
The problem is that humans are quick to notice the negative and less apt to focus on the positive. If you don’t believe me, then turn on your local news and see for yourself. Sure, there are sometimes human interest pieces that provide at least a glimmer of hope, but they are often eclipsed by the “big stories”: crime, war, death and destruction.
And the news is regularly tinged with racial stereotypes, too. How many times must a white man hear of crimes committed by black men before he grows wary of every black person he encounters? And when he passes a young black man on the street, making no effort to consider or even acknowledge him, how must the young man feel? Would he be more or less apt to interact with whites in the future, I wonder?
The white man’s avoidance of blacks poses an even larger problem than mere racism itself; it prevents him from experiencing life in all its glory because he will now omit at least one group of people from his day-to-day existence. Whites who are afraid of blacks deny themselves potential friendships because of something as ridiculous as skin color. Do you know who suffers when this happens?
Racism is a disease that stalls human evolution by perpetuating hatred, violence and disunity. But there is a cure. It involves tolerance, understanding, humanity and what the great prophet Bob Marley so eloquently called “One Love”. The next time you find yourself cursing a bad driver or judging someone simply because their race differs from your own, please catch yourself and remember: We are all in this together. And if nothing else, we will all face the same fate someday.
Until then, be good to each other.